REVIEW: Bad Apples
– By Sooz Webb
Craaaazy killers decked out in scary masks, wreaking havoc on Halloween night! Pretty spooky plot for a film right? Eeeeh, you’d think so wouldn’t you. All Hallows, and the anonymity it provides those with devious tendencies has been an informative and conducive background to some of our cherished seasonal classics. So, for the premise to be utilized once again comes as no real surprise. Unfortunately, neither does ANYTHING in Bryan Coyne’s Bad Apples, which strives for Carpenter charisma, but winds up leaving a bitter taste in your mouth.
A married couple move to a nice area of the suburbs, but soon learn that behind picket fence pretence, the new district is more sinister than the estate agent had let on. Their neighbours are intense and a lil’ bit freaky to say the least, but that pales in comparison to what stalks the streets at night. The ‘what’ in question is a pair of teenage girls, butchering their way through a community that doesn’t seem to share the holiday spirit. Or penchant for bloodlust. And that, essentially, is the crux of our movie. A wishy washy seen-it-all-before narrative, bloated by a whole load of filler.
From the outset, we’re led to believe that this is a tribute to the slasher genre. A synth-tastic score puts us in mind of the Horror Masters legacy and we wait, excitedly, for gore-induced thrills like a kid anticipating the spoils synonymous with trick or treating. What we end up with is egg on our face. Bad Apples is a cacophony of errors. From a lack of colour grading, to poor sound quality to truly excruciating performances, it seems the whole thing was cobbled together with a ‘that’ll do’ attitude, which genuinely undermines it’s audience. The core of the problem lies with the film’s lack of motivation. Each character is an emotionless husk, bereft of soul, incentive or clue about what they’re doing there. This in turn has a knock on effect for us, inducing an existential crisis, as we question our life choices. A tad dramatic? I’m afraid not.
Brea Grant gives an awkward and lethargic portrayal as our hapless heroine. Her incessant bemoaning of every single thing that happens not only helps to irritate us further, but allows us to join in with her constant nitpicking. She, and her tiresomely ‘sarcastic’ husband, played by Graham Skipper, provide little in the way of sympathetic credibility, as they garble their way through a script that could only have been written by a robot. Seriously, no couple has EVER communicated in the way that these two do. Flouncy vocab was used for sure, but the overriding message conveyed is that the writer is in love with his own dialogue.
For their part, the Bad Apples themselves are suitably creepy as they skip, giggle and kill their way through town. They’re not remotely scary in any way, but it is fun to watch them undertake the occasional atrocity. However stilted and fumbly it may be. If you can stick the movie out to the end, then you will be rewarded with their best effort: as contemptible hubby is transfigured into a human Jack-o-lantern. Clearly the budget was saved for this moment. A preamble/backstory is tagged onto the girls’ legacy, in an effort to justify rational and heighten any potential mystery, but it’s merely window dressing for a store that’s already gone out of business.
Cold, distant and reprehensible is usually what we expect from our villains. Bad Apples gives us these elements in spades, just not in the way the director had intended. Incoherent, ineffectual and instantly forgettable, it’s an unappetizing effort, which should not be considered one of your five a day.